Talk Vietnam reported that the tree was 32 layers made from 2,500 used cell phones. The tree stands almost 15 feet high. According to an AP story on Yahoo, Westcom Electronics in My Tho, Vietnam created the cell phone Christmas tree as a way to “raise awareness about hazardous waste and promote environmental responsibility.” The message is especially important since the Vietnamese discard about 50 million handsets a year creating 400 tons of hazardous waste.
A 2007 study of cell phone waste conducted by University of California-Irvine and reported in PhysOrg, broke down the chemicals from the liquid that leaches into the soil from cell phone waste. What they found was scary.
"These data demonstrate that electronics manufacturers who seek to design products exempt from current hazardous waste classifications will need to address not just lead, as the current wave of responses to European and Japanese regulations has shown, but also nickel, antimony and zinc, and, most importantly, copper content."
According to Earth911.com, cell phones and their batteries are composed of a lot different substances that are dangerous especially when concentrated in landfills.
Cell phone coatings are often made of lead, meaning that if these 500 million cell phones are disposed of in landfills, it will result in 312,000 pounds of lead released. However, possibly the most hazardous component of the cell phone is the battery.
Cell phone batteries were originally composed of nickel and cadmium (Ni-Cd batteries). Cadmium is listed as a human carcinogen that causes lung and liver damage. Alternatives contain potentially explosive lithium or toxic lead.
They also contain mercury, beryllium, arsenic, and antimony.
If the Vietnamese throw away 50 million handsets per year, you know that the European Union, the United States and India throw away many more simply because of the size of their populations. Concentrated amounts of led, nickel, cadmium, and lithium in landfills means that those substances are leaching into the ground and ground water.
Turning used cellphones into a Christmas tree is certainly a better choice than tossing them in a landfill, but Christmas doesn’t last year round and something has to happen with the used phones. Poisoning ourselves by tossing them into landfills is certainly not the way to do it.
Many people will be receiving new cell phones for Christmas. That means that come December 26th there will be a lot of potential hazardous trash ready to go out with the Christmas wrapping. Instead head over to Recycle My Cell Phone and let them get your old phones to certified companies who will refurbish your old phones and give them new life. Sure beats poisoning the water.Tags: cell phone, Christmas, Christmas tree, hazardous waste, mobile phone, recycling, Vietnam, Westcom